Chad Marshall spent 10 years as a member of Columbus Crew SC. He was taken with the second overall pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft, behind only Freddy Adu. In his rookie season with the Black and Gold, he learned alongside MLS legend Robin Fraser, that season's MLS Defender of the Year, on the team's way to a then MLS record unbeaten streak and the club's first ever Supporter's Shield. Marshall finished second that year in MLS Rookie of the Year voting behind now Seattle Sounders teammate Clint Dempsey.
Marshall dealt with injuries during his time with the Black and Gold, mainly working through concussions that could have caused a premature ending to his career. The central defender constantly came back though and was rewarded in 2008 where he was named MLS Defender of the Year and was voted to the MLS Best XI.
After helping the Crew to 2008 Supporter's Shield, Marshall scored the
game-winning game-tying goal in the Eastern Conference final with a header over former Crew icon Brain McBride, as well as scoring the winning goal in the MLS Cup Final.
Marshall signed a new contract in the offseason and followed up a stellar campaign with another in 2009, winning his second-straight MLS Defender of the Year award, as Columbus won it's second-straight Supporter's Shield.
In 2011, Marshall was named club captain after the departure of Frankie Hejduk.
When Gregg Berhalter took over before the 2014 season, he decided it was time for Marshall to move on. Berhalter did not doubt the big defender's talent, but rather felt the best case for both parties was a change.
When the Sounders take the field at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night, it will mark the return of Marshall against his former team, in his former city for the first time. Marshall was in demand at the Sounders' training on Friday afternoon. Here is a transcript of that interview:
Q: What is it like being here in your old stomping grounds?
Marshall: It's cool. It was interesting driving up and walking into the stadium. It felt good. A lot of good memories on this field and friends, fans so it's good to be back.
Q: A lot has changed in Columbus and for Columbus Crew SC and for you as well. Have you had a chance to follow any of the rebranding or any of the things that have been going on with the club?
Marshall: Oh yeah, for sure. I watch every Crew game that I can that we're not traveling or something and I keep in touch with the guys. It's great with what's been going on here, obviously with the rebranding and they've been playing great. They have a very good team on the field so it's going to be a tough match tomorrow.
Q: When you think back on tenure in Columbus, what does the city and the fans and the club and the fans mean to you?
Marshall: It means a lot. My heart will always have some Black and Gold in it. I kind of feel like I grew up in this city. I came here when I was 19, so I learned a lot about myself and the city was a big part of that so I'll always look fondly on my 10 years here.
Q: What are your expectations for the match with the fans and your first time back here?
Marshall: I don't know. I don't know if I'm going to get the old "Columbus Reject!" chant or not, but it'll be cool to see them again and feel the energy. I'm sure it will be a good game. The Crew's a good attacking team and we've got a couple guys that are good up top so it's going to be a good game.
How different does it look around here [MAPFRE Stadium]? New signage and things like that. Is it like what you remember? Do you make it back much?: I was here this offseason. So I got married in Indianapolis and then I came here for a week. But I mean, it's got some new, shiny stuff, but it's the same feel. It's cool they got the stadium sponsor and I'm happy that it's making big moves here. Obviously Precourt has come in and done some good things. Changed up Obetz, changed up the locker room, so I'll be excited to see that kind of stuff.
Q: Obviously the move has done pretty good things for you as well coming off such a dominating season like you had. Why does he think things have gone so well for you out there?
Marshall: I just think it's been a good situation. Obviously going there and knowing that Sigi was there and you know what you're going to get from a coaching staff. You know what he expects. He's very demanding and I was excited for that, to work under him again. Like I said, he's a demanding coach and it's a organization that has a lot of pressure on it to do well. I was excited for that and obviously they've got a good locker room, similar to what we had here in Columbus. It's just fun to experience something new and play well.
Q: Gregg Berhalter said he thought it was a good time for both sides to move on. Did you feel that way at the time? Were you ready for a new opportunity?
Marshall: It kind of seemed that way. Myself and Andy Gruenebaum were kind of the last two players from that era and Andy left and I kind of felt like I was the old guy. They were obviously coming in with a new ownership group, a new coaching staff, so if there was ever a time to go, I guess that was it. It worked out well. Obviously both sides are doing well so it's good.
Q: Will it feel strange tomorrow getting ready in the visitors locker room and wearing a different color uniform on the pitch?
Marshall: Yeah, I'm sure coming in here and going right down the hallway will be a little different. Yeah, I don't know. I guess I won't know until tomorrow and can answer those questions after training.
Q: Have you been in the visitors locker room?
Marshall: I just went to the restroom in there before training. I think they painted in there too so it's different. The only time I went in there was to do autographs when we would train here sometimes. So it's definitely going to be different being in there.
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to any of your former teammates or planning on seeing them at all before the game
Marshall: We got in so late last night that I didn't have a chance to see them and then today we have team meal and stuff. So I probably won't see them until before the game and then hangout with them a little after. I've been texting with them this week. I keep in touch with the guys. I've been talking to Wil Trapp about what he's dealing with and making sure he's all right. I still enjoy this club and following it and keeping in touch with the guys.
Q: [Justin Meram] said you're still his landlord. Does he owe you a rent check or anything?
Marshall: No, he moved out last December. He left me with a house to try and sell in the middle of December in Columbus. That was tough, but I still love him.